- The Washington Times - Friday, June 29, 2012

Virginia is one of the latest states to slip out from under from the federal No Child Left Behind education law.

The Department of Education on Friday granted five more waivers from the widely maligned, decade-old act. In addition to Virginia, Arkansas, Missouri, South Dakota and Utah will also no longer be subject to the tough “adequate yearly progress” system and other NCLB mandates.

“Their plans are the product of bold, forward-thinking state and local leaders who have moved beyond the tired old battles and partisan bickering to roll up their sleeves and start working together,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement Friday.

Twenty-four states have now been freed from the law, the first major domestic legislative achievement of former President George W. Bush’s administration and the product of a bipartisan effort spearheaded by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. Another 12 states and D.C. have also submitted waiver requests, which are currently under federal review and must be approved by Mr. Duncan.

The 2002 law was designed to raise educational standards for U.S. schools across the board, but critics say its mandates and achievement goals are too onerous and unrealistic.

The waiver system, announced by Mr. Duncan and President Obama last fall, has been billed as the administration’s “Plan B” for education reform. House Republicans and Senate Democrats have been unable to reach a compromise on how to replace NCLB, despite widespread agreement from both parties and most in the education community that the law needs to be changed.